St Ronan’s take maiden MacRory title

March 19, 2018

St Ronan’s Lurgan 1-9 St Mary’s Magherafelt 1-7
From Kevin Kelly in Athletic Grounds
The scenes at the final whistle at the Athletic Grounds showed just what it meant to St Ronan’s Lurgan to win a first ever Danske Bank MacRory Cup title.
In doing so they got the better of holders St Mary’s Magherafelt who themselves had claimed a maiden success at this level 12 months ago and they become only the second side to win the MacCormack and MacRory titles in the one season.
The game got off to an explosive start with first time finalists St Ronan’s Lurgan awarded a penalty after only 40 seconds following a foul on Eoin McConville. Oisin Smyth stepped up to expertly fire his spot kick past keeper Odhran Lynch.
The same player then landed a quality point after good work from Rioghan Meehan before Liam Quinn opened the holders’ account in the 6th minute after a sharp turn and quality finish.
Impressive wing half back Conall Devlin then pointed via the post as Magherafelt began to get on top. A second penalty in the game was awarded in the 24th minute when Devlin was fouled as he attempted to get his shot away, Daniel Bradley finishing into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Adam Connolly was causing problems for the Lurgan defence and he lofted over a fine score to leave two between the sides. Eoin McConville then got a much needed point for Lurgan from a free and when the same player intercepted the next kick out he promptly sent over the equaliser.
It was St Mary’s Magherafelt though who had the final say of a low scoring half when centre forward Tiarnan McAteer cut in from the wing to point with his left to leave it 1-4 to 1-3 at the interval.
Lurgan were level in the first attack of the second half when man of the match Rioghan Meehan took a pass from Smyth to split the posts. A close in free from McConville then edged the winners in front but Magherafelt responded straight away with a fabulous score from midfielder Jamie McCann.
In the 43rd minute St Ronan’s almost got a second goal but a first time shot from substitute Josh Megoran saw Magherafelt Captain and keeper Odhran Lynch dive full length to pull off an outstanding save.
At the end of the third quarter St Ronan’s had their noses in front again thanks to another fine strike from the impressive Meehan. Magherafelt though weren’t going to give up their title without a fight and a strong run from Cormac Murphy finished with him off-loading for Bradley to level matters.
With a dozen minutes left to play however St Ronan’s took a lead that they were never to lose when Jack Lenehan and Leo Monteiro combined for Meehan to kick his third point of the half.
St Ronan’s were growing in confidence and when substitute Marc McAfee pointed with the outside of his boot from the right wing the scoreboard read 1-8 to 1-6 and eight minutes left on the clock.
St Mary’s though were far from finished with attacking half back Devlin landing another beauty from distance to cut the gap to the minimum again with four minutes left to play.
Both sides missed chances but crucially St Ronan’s looked to have that wee bit more hunger when it mattered most in the closing straight. Two minutes into injury time a fourth McConville point, from a free, gave them a little more breathing space.
It was going to take a goal now to save Magherafelt’s title and in a frantic finish they won three 45s in a row but St Ronan’s soaked up the pressure to hold on and take the coveted silverware.
St Ronan’s Lurgan: L Mulholland, E McCluskey, A Mulholland, J Haddock, A McCreanor, J Lamont, J Haughey, J Lenehan, T Kelly, O Smyth (1-1), A Loughran, R Meehan (0-3), R McConville, L Monteiro, E McConville (0-4, 3f).
Subs: J Megoran for R McConville, M McAfee (0-1) for Monteiro
St Mary’s Magherafelt: O Lynch, C Doyle, G Lupari, L McElhone, J Crawford, S McErlain, C Devlin (0-2), J McErlain, J McCann (0-1), A Connolly (0-1), T McAteer (0-1), R Keenan, L Quinn (0-1), C Murphy, D Bradley (1-1).
Subs: A McCluskey for Keenan, D McAteer for McCann, C O’Neill for Bradley, R Hughes for Connolly
Referee: P Faloon, Down